The results of the recent study published in the Australian medical Journal regarding efficacy of Acupuncture in treatment of low back pain and ankle sprains has added weight to what a lot of physiotherapists have been seeing in General practice. The study was a randomised control trial of high quality with the data collected from four major Australian hospitals.
The study looked at acupuncture versus acupuncture and medication, versus medication only, in the acute treatment of migraines, lower back pain and ankle sprain. At my clinic I don’t use it on everybody and certainly not on anyone who has any fear or general dislike of needles. Applying acupuncture to the right patient at the right time has achieved some great results.
The Study Outline:
1,964 patients took place in the four centre study. A verbal rating scale out of ten (ten being excruciating pain and zero being no pain) with a score of four or above was needed for the patient to participate in the study. A meaningful change was noted as two points difference on the scale.
One hour after treatment less than 40 percent of patients across all groups experienced greater than 2/10 in pain relief with 80 percent still acknowledging pain of 4/10 or more.
“But 48 hours later, the vast majority found their treatment acceptable, with 82.8 per cent of acupuncture-only patients saying they would probably or definitely repeat their treatment, compared with 80.8 per cent in the combined group, and 78.2 per cent in the pharmacotherapy only group” - Science Daily.
To summarise, all groups provided a nearly equivalent level of relief at the one hour and forty-eight hour measures therefore acupuncture can be considered as an effective treatment for pain relief in the acute setting. Further considerations of safety and pain management in general are succinctly noted in these paragraphs from Science Daily -
"Emergency nurses and doctors need a variety of pain-relieving options when treating patients, given the concerns around opioids such as morphine, which carry the risk of addiction when used long-term. Our study has shown acupuncture is a viable alternative, and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs because of other medical conditions. But it's clear we need more research overall to develop better medical approaches to pain management, as the study also showed patients initially remained in some pain, no matter what treatment they received."
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Jason is the Leichhardt Physiotherapy clinic practice principal. A graduate from Sydney Uni and practicing for 18 years he is passionate about sharing new discoveries.